You probably presume we ran out of tea? Those poor mites, stranded in Crete without a proper brew, having to settle for yellow label tea. Actually, we ran out of soya milk and decided to challenge ourselves to two weeks of living without tea. We have plenty of tea stashed away in the cupboard from visiting friends and family, and we could have just bought some soya milk from the shop… but that would have been too easy, plus, we had so much herbal tea that needed drinking. Additionally we had a trip to the UK planned at the end of the two week abstinence, so we reasoned that living without tea for two weeks would enhance our appreciation.
Fairly recently we transitioned to soya milk instead of cow’s milk. We are very sympathetic to the plight of animals and also know that lots of dairy isn’t good for the human body. Recently we watched ‘Game Changers’ on Netflix which highlights the importance and benefits of a plant based diet. We aren’t vegan, but we’ve made some easy swaps to our diet. Unsweetened soya milk tastes really good in tea, and I’ve begun to use olive oil instead of butter or margarine in recipes. You can read about our olive harvest.
Let’s specify what I mean by “tea”. I mean black tea, proper tea, real tea, builders tea, English breakfast tea. The tea that wakes you up in the morning and consoles you at the end of a hard day. We come from the land of cups, saucers and cream teas. Tea is a comfort. It’s the answer to any situation. We have a cup of tea when we’re happy and we have a cup of tea when we’re sad.
I’m a hardened tea drinker. I was knocking back Earl Grey by the age of six, and could successfully dunk a rich-tea-biscuit by seven…which is no easy feat considering how temperamental they are when they hit hot tea. One of my fondest memories is arriving home after school, sitting on the sofa, legs dangling off the end, watching tv whilst sipping earl grey tea and dunking bourbon biscuits. It’s the stuff of dreams.
When I was a child, my alarm clock was the kettle. My dad would religiously rise at the same time every morning and as I lay tucked up in bed, I’d wake to the sound of the kettle boiling in the kitchen downstairs. The 9 year old me would wander down bleary eyed and full of sleep. Dad would cajole me and say that I was too late, before adding a little more water to the pot to eek out another little cup of tea for me.
Making tea under supervision…
I was full of anticipation and excitement leading up to my tenth birthday. Ten years old marked the age of being allowed (supervised) to make a cup of tea. It was thrilling to gain some responsibility, and I willingly made tea for anyone and everyone. As I gained confidence with handling the kettle, I was allowed to make tea on my own. At the weekends, I’d bounce out of bed to make my parents a tea in bed. I’m sure they must have loved that brief period of time when neither of them had to get up and make the tea. It didn’t take long before it became a bit tiresome and the novelty began to wear off.
Luckily I have two younger sisters, so there was a succession of eager tea-makers to relieve me of tea duties. The struggle came when we all got a little older and dad came up with a tea rota. We all had particular days when it was our turn to make the tea. It became a battle and we’d squabble and argue over who’s turn it was. In fact it’s left me with a residual resentment towards making tea, Mr SN will verify that. I’m a tea shirker; If I can get out of making the tea then I will.
Those childhood days were short lived. I was under the impression that life would always magically present me with tea. I was unprepared for the harsh reality of life; most of the time you have to make your own tea.
Tea in Crete…
At this time of year, our usual routine primarily revolves around tea breaks. We wake up in the morning and one of us makes tea and brings it back to bed. Then we get up and have another tea before we get going. During the morning we stop for more tea, lunch is washed down with tea, and in the evening we have a couple more. So you see, living without tea for two weeks is a real challenge.
It was obviously a huge cultural shift to move from the land of tea, to the land of coffee. Coffee is great, but it’s not tea. Very early on we devised a plan to ensure that we had enough tea to survive. You can buy tea here, but it’s either like wishy washy dishwater, or it’s really expensive. When we were packing up our belongings to be shipped to Crete, we stashed a large amount of tea bags. Boxes were packed with books, photo frames, tennis balls (for Dora-dog) and tea bags. What more could you need for a new life in Greece?
The art of tea…
We’ve all experienced it; that awful cup of tea made by someone with good intentions. They usually don’t drink tea themselves, which makes a big difference. You know from the first sip that it ain’t a good’n. Then you have to endure the whole cup, or else search for a pot plant whilst they pop out of the room.
There’s a beautiful art to making the perfect cup of tea. It always amazes me how different a cup of tea can be, seeing as the ingredients are always the same. My mum makes awful weak tea, my dad’s tea is on the strong side, nanny makes milky tea and Mr Sidestepping-normal makes perfect tea…I have to say that, or else he might stop making me tea.
Living without tea for two weeks…
We’re always up for a challenge. With the looming deadline of visiting the UK to see friends and family, we felt that denying ourselves tea would enhance our appreciation. It all started really well. We worked our way through the assortment of herbal tea bags, and picked fresh mint from the garden. After a few days, we discovered some left over coffee in the back of the cupboard, which kept things exciting. All good things must come to an end, and It was disappointing when the coffee dwindled and we were back to camomile.
I don’t want to give the impression that we dislike herbal tea, we really do love it. But there comes a moment when enough is enough and a hibiscus and echinacea tea-bag doesn’t quite hit the spot. We began to get a bit tetchy about the hot beverage situation, but with only a few days until our impending visit the the UK, we begrudgingly sipped at hot coloured water.
The first unforeseen consequence was that we stopped eating biscuits. We usually devour packet after packet of biscuits, but without a cuppa to dunk them in, there didn’t seem any point. We still craved something sweet to go with our tea, so instead we started baking.
Recipes were scoured and the music was cranked up as we danced around the kitchen mixing up cakes. We laughed and pranced around with Dora-dog and Nancy-floss whilst waiting for cakes to rise in the oven.
The second consequence was that we were far more hydrated. When we made herbal tea, we filled a whole caffetiere with hot water and herbs (we like using a glass caffetiere because it’s beautiful to see the colours seeping out of the herbs). We always made more than we could drink, so the leftovers went cold. It seems like a waste to pour it dow the sink, so we began to drink it as a cold drink. Mr SN and I were consuming far more liquid than normal, and our bodies felt great for it.
Our first cup of tea…
I’d like to tell you that we completed the challenge and had our first cup of tea in England after 2 weeks of living without tea. What actually happened was that we both cheated. Whilst still in Crete, Mr SN accidentally had a cuppa at a friends house. Then to top it off, a different friend was due over for tea and cake just before we left for the UK. “You have to tell her that we have no milk to make tea.” Mr SN proclaimed. Having informed her, she brought along her own milk (quite understandably) and we caved-in under temptation. That first tea wasn’t as wonderful as we’d imagined. Our taste buds were unused to dairy, and it left us with a sour after taste.
We’re now back in the UK. The incessant drizzle and dreary grey skies are enough to turn anyone to a cup of steaming hot tea. Almost two weeks of living without tea has been beneficial and we’ve learnt a lot. Firstly, as much as we love herbal tea, there are moments when you just can’t substitute it for real tea. Secondly, we’ve discovered how easy baking is if you make some time…supermarket cake and biscuits aren’t a patch on homemade ones. And lastly, we have acknowledged that tea is part of our heritage and culture; we’re proud to be tea drinkers. P.s – Just in case you’re wondering, the word tea appears 79 times in this piece of writing!
Never miss a thing! If you’d like to be alerted of new blog posts, subscribe to our newsletter.